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My first hike in Korea! And it was awesome!!! This hike was done on March 1st, 2011. Which is the Korean Independence Day.

My first hike in Korea! And it was totally exciting and memorable. Laurel and I signed up for the trip through Discover Korea, a group run by a Korean American who organizes trips for foreigners. The group charted a bus to the island of Gangwha-do  which is on the northwestern end of South Korea. It was a little sketchy given the fact that the temperature was about 10 deg F outside and it was snowing on our way to the island. No worries though because once we arrived the hiking gods smiled on us and the clouds parted giving us blue skies and warming up to a totally manageable temperature. We hiked straight up the side of the mountain for about 1.5 kilometers until we reached the ridge.

Manisan Ridge Hike

The rest of the hike was along the ridge bouncing between 3 summits. On top, we saw the beauty of it all. The storm had been a windy one and the precipitation was a wet slushy snow the night before. Thus giving the trees a chance to catch the rain-snow, hold on to it, and freeze it sideways. Yes, the world looked like it was sideways. This was probably one of the coolest weather effects ever to grace the Earth.

Ice frozen sideways on the trees

Koreans love to hike. We hiked it on a Tuesday because we had the day off for Korean Independance day and we weren’t the only ones with this idea. There were so many Koreans on the mountain that it was a superhighway of hikers. There were bottlenecks and traffic jams constantly during the hike. Koreans also don’t believe in personal space. If you are having trouble they will help by either pulling you up the mountain or giving you the butt-push. The trail was icy and slick in places and Laurel received the butt-push while others in our group were dragged. One woman was even given a cramp-on for her shoe to be returned to a local store at the bottom.

More sideways frozen ice

Upon reaching the summit it was kinda like a party. Or church, however you want to think about it. There was a Korean hiking group at the top who were having an event to ask for safe travels and strong hikers. This was complete with cut fruit, many many bottles of Korean rice wine called Mapoli, and a full  on steamed pigs head. Then in turn members of the group bowed to the pigs head and put envelopes full of cash in it. I guess Koreans love to get together for three things, eating, drinking, and raising money. Suffice it to say that we were a little crowded and peaced out to find a place to chill and enjoy the beautiful day.

A very crowded summit

Sacrifice to the hiking gods

After the amazing hike we went into town and had dinner. We had a giant seafood pancake, a bowl of noodle soup that could feed a small army, and barbecued clams. They brought us a plate of clams of varying sizes and the table has a bbq in the middle of it where we could cook them ourselves. Korean style is share everything so with sides and main dishes and tons of food to go around, we all had to loosen our belts a notch or two. We walk to the beach, stared at the majesty of deep ocean and decided it was a solid day, time to make the return journey home.

An awesome assortment of Cut Knife Soup and BBQ clams

Close up on the deliciousness

 


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